The compromise between the Senate and the government’s economic team on pork is not expected to control the rising minimum access volume (MAV) pork imports, according to a top official of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
In a statement, KMP instead urged government to focus its efforts and resources on improving local food production to address rising food prices.
KMP Chairman Emeritus Rafael Mariano said the “compromise deal” about reducing the proposed increase on pork imports under MAV and pork import tariff cut is “grossly insufficient.”
The leader emphasized that the new proposals would amount to “a still unprecedented 370 percent MAV increase, and the slashing of current import duties by more than half which will still cause billions of revenue losses for the government.”
MAV refers to the volume of a specific agricultural product that is allowed to be imported with a lower tariff as committed by the Philippines to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Last week, the Senate and the government’s economic team came up with a compromise allowing the entry of more imported pork into the country to bring down the price of pork in the country.
The deal made between the President’s economic cluster and lawmakers put the increased MAV on pork at 254,000 metric tons, almost halving the original proposal of 404,000 MT.
It also put the lowered out-quota tariffs to 20 percent and in-quota to 10 percent, amounting to a 5 percent increase from the first proposed 15 and 5 percent, respectively.
Mariano, who previously served as the Duterte Administration’s Agrarian Reform Secretary, said that even with the adjustments the local pork industry is still threatened as “support for the boosting of local hog and food production remains meager.”
Mariano said that the compromise’s real aim is “to dampen public pressure to advance the interests of importers and foreign big business.”
He further said the deal is far from satisfactory and that KMP maintains its demand that local hog and food producers must be aggressively supported by the Department of Agriculture (DA).
“That is the department’s main mandate! Instead of facilitating the flood of imports and offering risky loans, the government should heavily invest in local food production,” Mariano said.